Social Media Icons

Social Media: False Friend?

You may be familiar with the phrase ‘Dunbar’s Number’, named after the anthropologist Robin Dunbar and coined in the 1990s.  Dunbar’s number refers to the probable limit to the number of social relationships a person can maintain effectively at one time, and is an interesting concept in the Internet age where many people’s  online ‘friends lists’ can number in the high hundreds.  What would you think Dunbar’s studies into human brain size and social grouping revealed to be the approximate maximum number of sustainable social connections?  300?  500?  Maybe 900?

Continue reading “Social Media: False Friend?”

Keep Calm, It's The School Holidays

Life Experience,Motivation,Relationships

Date : July 11, 2016Comments : 0

School Holiday Survival Guide

Keep Calm, It's The School Holidays


With the annual school holidays looming, many parents, grandparents and carers the world over will be anticipating the children breaking up from school and the added busyness that that brings.  Are you looking to the holidays with eagerness or bracing yourself for a stressful time?

Planning Is Key

Some stresses can be avoided.  Many people plan their finances so that the stress of not having enough to make ends meet is one they avoid.  Other stresses, such as an interview for a new job, cannot be avoided, and so are best met head on, with preparation.  School holidays and times when the family is together more are no exception.  Here, I would suggest that following a few basic principles can make the difference between a generally happy home and one where the stress can become distress.

  • Don’t Try To Cram Too Much In

    • Just as adults need ‘down time’, children require time to relax and wind down from their busy school lives, to change gear from the Monday to Friday rush and to ease into the holidays. Activities are undoubtedly a fun and enjoyable part of any holiday period, yet learning to be a human being and not simply a human doing is invaluable.  TV time, in moderation, is healthy and normal – give yourself permission to allow this!
  • Have A ‘Plan B’

    • When the clouds break, the rain comes down and the trip to the park is definitely off, make sure you have something up your sleeve to fall back on. Planning for different eventualities is the psychological equivalent of not ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’.  Anxieties about how the holidays are going to run can be calmed by making sure you feel in control of events to some degree.  If you ever get the opportunity to speak to a professional child minder, ask them about perhaps little known local attractions and events for children – after all, that is their line of work!
  • Learn To Laugh It Off

    • Children often take their cue from the adults they are with, and so if you interpret some unplanned happening as a disaster, so will they. Their mood may be harder to recover even when you are over the shock of the unforeseen event, and so learning to laugh at the unexpected and shrug your shoulders philosophically may mean your children will follow your lead.  So, the cinema showing ended at 2:30 p.m., not started?  Laugh it off – it’s an experience!

Isn’t it?

Throwing children back on their own resources (i.e. telling them to go and play instead of providing them with entertainment all the time), will help them learn independence and resilience.  It will also give you time to look after your own needs and get a bit of ‘me’ time.  After all, it’s your holiday too, isn’t it?  :-)

~ Rob Oglesby MBACP B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy


[Ashwood Therapy provides a discreet, confidential and professional online counselling service by encrypted video call, live instant messaging and secure email.  More details, including tips on wellbeing and information on current counselling session pricing, can be found at]


Depression,Life Experience

Date : July 7, 2016Comments : 0

14 – “The sun will shine again” – Sometimes It’s Hard – Jamie Lawson

There’s nothing quite like a funeral to make you think about your own life. This week I kicked my demons into touch to say goodbye to my friend (see blog post 13), and although it was an incredibly difficult and emotional day, it also forced me to face up to the fact that my depression has been in control of my life for far too long.

My cheerful friend

My friend was a vibrant, loud and cheerful person and to see her coffin hit me hard. This beautiful woman really had gone, and there would never be any more messages shared about our kids, or reassuring me that demons are liars. Of course my grief is nothing compared to that of her family’s, and I would like to thank them all for allowing me to attend the service to say goodbye to someone who I loved like a second Mum.

The hours following on from the funeral were hard, once I’d got my head around the emotion of the day, I started thinking about my own life and how my family would feel if it was me they were saying farewell to.

Farewell to a friend made me think about my life…

This period of darkness has been, as I’ve said before, the most intense I’ve ever experienced. There have been many occasions that I have thought about taking my life. Not in a throwaway comment way, not in a “my life is rubbish” way, but in a genuine “I cannot cope anymore” way. The cloud has been suffocating to the point of making me believe my girls would be better off without me. When that feeling consumes you, it doesn’t matter what anyone says, their words just bounce off you like water off a duck’s back. Nothing can penetrate the hold the depression has on you and even if you are told a million times that things will get better, you just cannot see it. I felt like this for a long time, trapped in a place I didn’t want to be and feeling like no one was listening to how desperate I was.

I can see now…everyone was listening and trying to help

Now the cloud has shifted a bit I can see that everyone was listening, and doing their very best to support me. I feel incredibly guilty for making anyone worry about me. No one could have done anything more. It’s so difficult to explain but when your own head is screaming at you that if you end your life this excruciating, never-ending torture will be over, there really is nothing that anyone could ever say that would help. What did I want people to do? To say? I really couldn’t tell you, whatever it was that I needed wasn’t anything that anyone could have offered me. That’s not to say though that friends and strangers alike didn’t try, and I realise now how lucky I am to have people who care so much.

My depression has caused me to become something of a social outcast for many months. Initially I and my family were invited to parties/BBQs/weddings, but I guess after a while I said “no” so many times that friends felt it wasn’t worth asking. I’ve not had cuppas with friends for longer than I can remember. As a family we’ve not done some things our eldest has wanted to do because of my fear of crowded places. The thought of bumping into someone I know locally scared me so much it has prevented normal activities from happening such as visits to the park or trips to town

My depression has always come and gone for years, normally like a switch flicking on and off, and so I am not able to say that any significant event previously has ever resulted in that switch being activated, in either direction. The funeral of someone I loved dearly is perhaps an extreme reason, but the cloud has definitely become a little lighter and the suicidal thoughts are not consuming my every waking thought currently.

My demons come and go, but I feel, now maybe… I am finally on my way back up

It would be silly to think that after such a long and excessively dark time, that instantly I can go back to being happy, sociable and the demons will just disappear. I’ve fought this illness long enough to know that my annoying demons are always there in my head, there is never a day I am totally free of them, but I can honestly say that having hit that rock bottom that everyone talks about, I’m on my way back up.

It’ll still be a daily fight but I’ll keep pulling myself up

It’s going to be a daily fight to keep pulling myself upwards, I’m under no illusions that without pills or counselling I’m making things more difficult for myself, but I’m feeling determined that I will do this – not only for myself, but for my little family, my friends who have remained by my side no matter how hard my demons tried to push them away, and for my lovely buddy Denise, who never doubted I would win this battle.

Every day won’t be a success, I know there will be times that the sneaky demons will try and pull me down again, but I’ve lost enough of my life to them and it’s time to take back control.

Feel free to contact me –

Facebook –

Email –

Shipwreck - Positive Thinking

Positive Thinking

Some years ago I heard a story which gave me pause for thought, and which has stuck with me ever since.  A British ship was out in a foreign sea in rough weather, being battered from left to right all night by the wind, rain and waves.  Eventually, the storm became too much and the ship capsized, drowning all but two sailors who awoke the next morning to find themselves washed up on the sandy beach of a tiny island.  They found fresh water in the form of a stream, and several boxes of supplies washed up on the sand.

Dry Biscuits

Upon opening the boxes, the two men found that they all contained nothing but the dry, unappetising ship’s biscuits.  Their experience had been remarkably similar up until this point, yet now the men’s view of the situation was vastly different.  Each mealtime, the two men would sit down with the biscuits and plain water in front of them and would eat until they were full.  The first man, known by many for his pessimism, constantly complained about the poor meal and bland flavour, bemoaning the fact that all the appealing food had gone down with the ship.  He sat and ate his dry biscuits with little enthusiasm.

Roast Beef

The second survivor, however, had a reputation for being an upbeat man, and approached each mealtime with relish.  He would describe out loud, both to himself and his shipmate, how the biscuits he was eating were not biscuits at all, but thick slices of roast beef with rich gravy, accompanied by tasty potatoes and fresh vegetables.  Each mouthful would be a pleasure for this second sailor, and at each meal he would ‘eat’ something different.  The first sailor, sick of his ship’s biscuits, thought his companion to be foolish to go on in such a ridiculous way every time he had his food.


This went on for some time until finally, many weeks after the shipwreck and near to the end of the meagre rations, the two men were rescued by a passing vessel.  When the medical officer of this ship examined both men, he found the first to be in very poor physical condition owing to an inadequate diet, yet was amazed that the second man seemed much stronger and was showing fewer signs of difficulty.

Power Over The Outcome

When I see clients in therapy, sometimes the circumstances of their situation are fixed and unchangeable.  The power of positive thought, and the ability to be flexible in approach and expectation have proved many times to be the staffs upon which many clients have learnt to lean on to weather their own personal storms.  It has been my experience that they often discover they have more power over the outcome of their situation than they first thought.

~ Rob Oglesby MBACP B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy


[Ashwood Therapy provides a discreet, confidential and professional online counselling service by encrypted video call, live instant messaging and secure email.  More details, including tips on wellbeing and information on current counselling session pricing, can be found at]